Let's Go Rangers!
Have you ever experienced a more agonizing two minutes as a Ranger fan than the end of that second period? Two minutes of five-on-three. I was practically lying on the floor, barely able to watch. And perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered. A total of one shot on goal, that by our favorite Ranger Sandis Ozolinsh after seven seconds. And that was it. Sykora, who played a spunky game but missed earlier on a two-on-one that he should have buried, hit the goalpost flush on. Rucchin missed on a redirection attempt from in front of the net. And then there was the goal, a play that will guarantee Ozolinsh a place in Rangers notoriety for all time. I can’t imagine he’ll play at the Garden, even though the Rangers can hardly afford to not dress him given the fact that Jagr is out for Game 3.
But the third period reaffirmed my faith in the team, or at least what’s left of it in the wake of the carnage. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised, or even too disappointed if the team sagged after the most devastating end-of-period turnaround one could ever imagine. But instead, they continued to buzz and hit and skate and took the play to the Devils right to the very end, when Brodeur fittingly denied Ozolinsh with his acrobat diving stop.
This may sound crazy, but if the season ended after Game Two, what would stick in my mind is not the season-ending losing streak, not the way they could never get going again after the Olympics, not the penalties they took in Game 1, not Jason Ward ending his own season, and not even the pathetic lunge at Scott Gomez that put Jagr out of action. It would be the effort of 19 guys (yes, including Ozolinsh...he tried and doesn’t mean to suck) who showed the kind of pride in wearing a Rangers uniform that we haven’t seen in a long time. They showed moxie, character and grit, and isn’t that all we could have asked for when the season started?
So strike up a cheer when the boys hit the ice resplendent in Blue. They can win this game with a similar effort, some big saves and a couple of breaks, and God damn it, aren’t we due for a little luck? The Devils will be exposed before this tournament is over, and even if the obstacles are too much for us to overcome, the Rangers can at least initiate the cracks. The Rangers did indeed restore their identity in Game 2, at least the part that remains. At least for this one night, with all of us behind them, these remnants can be enough. Let’s Go Rangers!!
- Where do people like Johnette Howard of Newsday, who probably watched about two Rangers games this year, come off criticizing Renney for starting Weekes? Rangers fans are entitled to their opinion on this – mine is that I go along with the coach if he felt that Weekes gave them a better chance to win this particular game. And no, Weekes didn’t make a big save in the game. But I don’t need to read that from know-nothing columnists that speak in condescending and derisive terms about a coach who has done a lot more things right than he’s done wrong.
- I’ll be at Game 3 of course, and the last time I was at a Rangers playoff game was the last one played at the Garden; the excruciating Game 4 semifinal loss in 1997 against the Flyers. This story is absolutely true; I’m not making it up, I swear. I was at home, getting ready to leave for the game, and the doorbell rang. It was a dry cleaning delivery. “How much?” I asked.
I took this as a very bad sign, but I didn’t think it signaled nine years of bad luck. When is this going to end? Do you think this is all my fault?